The Old Montero


She’d been burning oil for a while, and more recently, started leaking some, too. Last spring, towing our little skiff toward the Columbia, she didn’t have enough power to get out of second gear. On flat ground. When I hit Olympia to pick up Sweeney, we had to take his truck to drag the boat the rest of the way to the big river. That’s when I knew it was time.

I wrestled with selling her. She wasn’t worth much, but I could certainly use the cash. On the other hand, I didn’t have much confidence that she’d be reliable for much longer, and the thought of the burning and leaking oil continuing to hit our air and water weighed on me, as did the declining gas mileage. I put her up on Craig’s List, but found myself talking every prospective buyer out of buying. In short, I was a very lousy salesman.

The answer, of course, was to get her off the roads altogether. So a few days ago, after a surprising amount of emotional turmoil, it was time to say goodbye to a good and trusty friend. Apologies for anthropomorphizing here, but we had so many great adventures together, it’s tough not to. We drove to the Skeena, drift boat in tow, half a dozen times. Four trips to Bella Coola. Once up through the Canadian Rockies. Epic times on the Olympic Peninsula, the Deschutes, the Grand Ronde. Long drives through the desert. Fun in the snow. Crawling sideways out of door-deep mud on the Humptulips. Hundreds of daily commutes to the Skykomish. Twice she brought babies home from being born.

In the end, she had 249,000 miles on the dial and was only in the shop once for anything other than scheduled maintenance. Twenty-five years of trustworthy hauling, twenty-three of which were with me.

So yeah, it’s tough not to attribute some humanity to something that’s been such a big part of my life for so long. My hope is that she’s now providing parts for someone else’s old Montero that’s still running strong. And that our new car, a Toyota, lasts just as long.

And Then, Reality Sets In


I put up a post about summer dreams and BOOM! This happens. Classic. We spent a lovely Superbowl Sunday at the Sweeney’s house in Olympia, one eye on the game and the other looking out the window as five inches of white stuff piled up. Of course, I was too busy eating all the delicious food to worry too much, but we drove home in a whiteout blizzard, and the usual hour-and-a-half drive took an hour longer. Then two days of no school here, many hours at the sled hill (where the kids built a jump and learned the meaning of “getting the wind knocked out of you”), dogs running in snow, snowball battles, snow cones, frozen fingers, a roaring woodstove, and the knowledge that no matter how much we dream of summer, it’s still winter. But we had so much fun, I can live with that.


Dreaming Of Summer


With more wet, cold weather and two weeks of battling the flu (I think we’re finally winning), I admit my mind has wandered to warmer days. My barely heated office hasn’t helped much, either. And the short, dark days are a factor, too. But maybe I’m just going soft? Whatever the reason, I’m already looking ahead to summer salmon (note to non-Puget Sounders: That’s July above, it only looks like we’re dressed for January), to the green woods and sunshine, to kids and dogs splashing on the beach.


Yes, there are winter kings in the Sound now, and I’m stoked for steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula, and in the not-so-distant future, springers on the Columbia. But what I’m really dreaming of, as I watch more slushy freezing rain fall outside, is shorts and flip flops. Better toss another log in the stove and huddle in close.